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The Right Way to Quit Porn

Last Updated: January 22, 2024

Is there a right or wrong way to quit porn? Actually, yes. You might have a sense of this if you’ve tried to stop before and failed. If that’s you, keep reading.

What’s the worst way to try to quit porn?

I’ve found a couple of contenders for the absolute worst method. Here are a couple of them.

Give up before you start.

Many people have experienced the negative effects of porn, but quitting porn is still an unpopular idea. “It’s no big deal, just enjoy it.” With this kind of advice, you might be discouraged and give up without even trying.

Obviously, that’s not going to get you anywhere. You’ll never experience the freedom you desire if you give up without a fight. Don’t be discouraged—there are millions of like-minded people out there and plenty of helpful tools if you stay the course.

Find the perfect app to block it.

This might sound weird coming from a software company, but at Covenant Eyes we don’t think apps are the answer. Porn is a human problem, deeply rooted in our identities and desires. It needs a human solution. Just blocking porn won’t work.

Don’t get me wrong, technology plays an important part, especially today when most porn is accessed through our digital devices. But relying solely on an app or program to deal with the problem just won’t work. You need something more.

Just try harder.

You’re at the bottom of Niagara Falls, trapped in the undertow. You’re swimming as hard as you can, but you’re tiring fast. You’re losing hope, and you know you’ll drown soon.

Then you see someone coming in a boat, and they’re shouting something at you. You can barely hear it over the crashing water. You have a spark of hope. What’s that?

“Just swim harder!”

Wow, thanks for that.

This is what it feels like for many struggling with porn. The only advice they’ve gotten about quitting is “just do it.” And if you’ve tried just doing it and have failed, you know you need something more than more of the same thing.  

The worst way to quit porn is the way you’ve already tried that hasn’t worked.

What’s the best way to quit porn?

We asked a sex addiction therapist, Dr. Doug Weiss. He gave us six simple steps to quit porn:

  1. You’ve got to really want it.
  2. You’re going to have to try something new.
  3. You’ve gotta spill your guts to a trusted ally.
  4. Get rid of your porn stash.
  5. Cut off your porn access—wherever you’re getting it from.
  6. Have someone hold your feet to the fire.  

Anyone serious about getting rid of porn needs to memorize these and put them into practice.  No, they’re not easy. But anyone can do them if they commit to the process. For some folks, counseling, therapy, or even a treatment program can be helpful as well.

Walking the path away from porn

Even simpler than the six steps, there are three things we’ve observed in people who successfully quit porn. (They really apply to any significant life change): They get clear, they get committed, and they get connected. These are the things that keep you on the road to victory.

Get Clear

If you don’t have a clear target in mind from the beginning, you’re going to miss it. Navigators know that going just a few degrees off course will, over time, lead hundreds of miles away from your destination. Practically speaking, you need to know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish. What does it mean to you to be free of porn? What are the benefits of quitting? Why are you doing this?

You also need to get really clear on what you’re going to lose if you don’t do it. Business guru and investor Tim Ferris calls this “fear setting.” What happens if you accept the status quo? What does your porn habit look like five or ten years down the road? This clarity will help you through the long process of overcoming porn. It will strengthen your resolve when the going gets tough.

Get Committed

Once you know what you’re doing and why, you’ve got to go all in. This is the point behind Dr. Weiss’s first and second steps. People give up on quitting because their commitment wavers. Or they give up on quitting because they don’t realize how much commitment is really involved.

Commit to quitting your triggers.

Part of the reason stopping porn is so tough is that it usually involves stopping a lot of other patterns and behaviors that lead you to porn—often without you realizing it.

Commit to uncovering your motives.

Getting committed means you commit to uncovering hidden motives behind your porn consumption. This is where counseling or therapy can be especially helpful. But you need to ask why you watch porn, and realize the reasons usually go deeper than “I like it” or “it feels good.”

Commit to dealing with withdrawal symptoms.

Yep, this is no fun. But if you have a deeply rooted porn habit, you might have to deal with porn withdrawal. Commitment means coming up with a plan to navigate these physical and emotional adjustments to life without porn.

Commit to facing your relationships.

Porn impacts your relationships. But we often don’t realize it when we’re struggling in secret. Committing to overcoming porn means you commit to being honest with the people you love about your struggles and asking forgiveness if your porn habit has hurt someone.

Get Connected

None of this will stick if you don’t have people around you to keep you accountable, encourage you, and help you stay motivated when you don’t feel like it. We’re social creatures, and when faced with a big challenge, we need other humans to help us through. This is especially the case with pornography, which is often motivated by a lack of real relationships or emotional wounds that you’ve experienced from those closest to you.

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